the good soil

We’ve all seen the famous picture, “The Last Supper.”

The tables hold plates of food,, the wine glasses are full, and the Passover feast is being served. The seats are only on one side of the table (as we know of course) and there sit the twelve disciples and Jesus.

Out of nowhere, Jesus gets up from the table, grabs a basin of water, a towel, and kneels down at the feet of the disciples. One by one, Jesus washes their feet…including Judas Iscariot, the one who would betray Him.

In that moment, the symbol of Christ changed from a manger to a water basin and dirty piece of cloth. In that moment, Jesus gave us the ultimate example of how we are to love our enemies.

Here at Grace College, I go to class to study and learn about the Bible. From stories of heroes like Elijah to doing word studies, I have definitely been taught new details, meanings, and lessons to be learned about the Bible and about Jesus.

As we were going through the New Testament, we looked at the leadership style of Jesus. He was gentle yet had a point to make. He was humble, yet confident in who He was. He was kind but didn’t stand for sin, and He had a goal to lead others towards. He was and is the very definition of good, gentle, humble, and caring.

Knowing this, it’s not surprising that He knelt down to wash Judas’s feet.

This part of the passage really stood out to me. Of course I don’t have anyone trying to sell me to the Romans for a few pieces of silver, but there are definitely those who make life just a little harder sometimes. We all have these people in our lives, especially when our main goal in life is to further the kingdom of God. These “difficult” people could be coworkers, peers, classmates, past friends, or the ones sitting in front of you at church (yes lol, I went there:)). Regardless of who they are, we are still called to love and serve them.

In John 13:2, it states that Jesus knew that the devil had already put it into Judas’s heart to betray him and yet He did not separate him from the rest of the disciples while washing feet. He could have easily lectured Judas or stun him with a snarky comment but He simply knelt

So, why does this matter to us? How is this relevant to my “difficult” person, the one I find it challenging to be around?

Well, the answer lies within the Parable of the Sower and in Luke 6.

In the Parable of the Sower, there are different soils in which a seed falls into. The rocky soil, the thorny soil, and the good soil. As the parable says, the seed that fell into the thorny soil did not grow because it got choked out by the weeds and thorns surrounding it. The seed that fell into the rocky soil sprouted only to be uprooted because its roots were too shallow and weak. Lastly, the seed in the good soil bloomed and thrived.

Trying to love others like Christ loves them without being planted in good soil is like trying to breathe in outer space. It simply is impossible – without the right equipment. Therefore, dealing with our “difficult” person is going to be impossible if we don’t have our proper equipment – a strong foundation built upon Christ. In Luke 6:27, Jesus tells us to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us.

If Jesus can wash Judas’s feet, the least we can do is pray for our “difficult” people. We don’t know what all they are going through and we don’t know their home life. But we do know someone who could bring them joy and peace and purpose and that is Jesus.

If you have a difficult person in your life, pray for them and ask for God to give you peace, patience, and guidance on how to love them. For some, it might look like a water basin and towel. For others, it might look like self-control or even filtering what we say to them. All in all, just pray for them and for God to use you as a seed planter.

We all can be difficult sometimes, so think about those who might be praying for you and then add on to the trend:)

John 13:1-15

Luke:27

Matthew 13

Treat your self

Things stay busy for me. To be sure, I’m not a victim of my busyness. I choose it. I have an extroverted, highly productive personality, and I like to keep my days full. On top of that, I am raising two small kids and working full time (and then some) to coordinate a large nursing program. I joke with people saying that I’m a firefighter. Part of my role as a parent and a program coordinator is putting out fires I didn’t start, solving everyone else’s problems. When the day finally calms, I don’t want to do anything that makes me think so I usually fill my mind with a random book or TV show. Maybe I binge some snacks. Over time, I have bought into this idea that rest will be found in this place that lacks structure and discipline. After all, I deserve this, right? In Psalm 23:3, King David says, “He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” The reality is that God is inviting me to a place of restoration that only comes from Him. There is a temptation to buy in to the world’s version of rest, which is sometimes just a fancy word for sin. God knows that only He can provide what we need, and it will not be found in a self-serving heart. No amount of “treating yourself” will restore our souls. Restoration will be found as we humbly let the Father lead us on paths of righteousness. May we not take the bait to check out after a long day or believe that we deserve to sin. We tend to reserve that word for the “big” things, but that’s how the enemy gets us. Binge eating at the drive through and reading a trashy romance novel can be just as deadly as cocaine. Don’t flirt with destruction. The only way we can provide Living Water to fight the daily fires is to allow the Father to fill the well from which we draw. Beloved, the world needs the Living Water that God wants to pour out of you.

Above all

An excerpt from an advice book given to my 12 year old daughter:

“Above all… love yourself! Loving yourself and learning to accept all your quirks is…. truly the most important thing you can do to boost your self-esteem. Whether you start by recognizing the little things or completely fall head over heels for your fabulous self, you can start your journey to promote self-love.”

I threw it away. 

I thought about just ending this whole piece with the aforementioned statement. But somewhere between “mic drop” and “well, that was arrogant,” it may be helpful to see why I responded that way. 

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” 

“…For the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.”

“And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.”

“‘You shall shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’”

“‘And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’” 

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”

I cannot reconcile the two messages. Can you see the dilemma? I cannot possibly love myself above all AND love God above all (“with all my heart/strength/mind/might/soul”). So, this means I have to choose. I’m tempted to say this issue is layered and complicated, but really, it isn’t. This isn’t about human dignity or value. The heart of the problem here is a problem with the heart. If I love myself above all else, then nothing else matters. If I love myself above all else, then nothing else matters, because loving myself is the only thing that matters. 

How can we commit to Love Ourselves Above All Else and Love the Lord our God With ALL of Our Everything? We can’t. It seems that loving all involved with a whole-hearted “die for the whole world” kind of love belongs to God alone. So, human love doesn’t have the capacity to engulf ourselves in a whole-hearted love that also gives the same attention and affection to something bigger and more superior to us simultaneously. To love something above all means I’m going to go head first and forsake other things because what I’m pursuing out of love is most important. If I teach my daughter that she is number one and to “love herself above all,” then that also means that the lesser thing is forsaken. If she’s first, then God cannot be. If I’m first, then God cannot be. 

Know what the ironic thing is here? When God is first, all these other things are added to us.** The other ironic thing? In order for us to love ourselves above all else, unable to commit to loving God above all, then we do the one thing that God promises to never do, which for Him, is to never leave nor forsake us  (Hebrews 13:5). If I want my daughter to be kind, compassionate, considerate, and a host of other desirable characteristics including loving, then how could I possibly expect that her pursuing “self-love” above all is going to produce an outward focused human? 

Throwing away books might not be your thing. But… what message is taking up space on your shelves? That poor book. I did toss it and not only that, but I took liberty to re-write the author’s paragraph using a different Book I own. Now, you try. 

“Above all.. love the Lord your God! Loving yourself and learning your quirks is… truly the most important thing you need to surrender. Whether you start by expressing gratitude or completely fall head over heels for the God who created you, you can start your journey to living a life built on a strong foundation.” 

*Deuteronomy 6:5, Deuteronomy 13:3, Deuteronomy 30:6, Matthew 22:37, Mark 12:30, Luke 10:27

**Matthew 6:33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

Ashley Behn

business:: https://www.facebook.com/ashleybehnembroidery/

blog:: https://mommentarybyashleybehn.wordpress.com

Sing

In every season I have a reason to sing.

Let me start by saying that I am NOT a singer.

I have zero musical bones in my body.

Regardless, I have learned to sing to my King.

I have always loved singing along with worship music.

I let it play in the background of my quiet times.

I keep K-LOVE on in my car.

I have some go-to favorites:

“Worthy of it All” by David Brymer

“Standing in Miracles” by Emmy Rose

“I Can’t Get Away” by Melissa Helser Naomi Raine

Worshipping along to pre-recorded songs and written words gives Him glory and honor, but there have been times when no predetermined lyric could quite reach the depths of my spirit.

When my four-day-old son was rushed to Texas Children’s in an ambulance.

When I walked through the deepest, darkest season of depression.

When I finally broke free from anxiety-induced drinking.

No words previously written could have captured my own spirit and soul.

No worship song already released properly relayed my message to God.

We were made that way.

We were created to sing our own songs.

We were made to worship from within our own spirit.

So, I just started singing.

It started out very simply.

I repeated words that resonated with me from other songs. While the worship team continued to the chorus, I sometimes stayed on the bridge, repeating the words that sparked my spirit.

Then, I began worshiping with instrumental music. I let the sounds wash over me as I waited for a song to spring up from within. Little by little, I sang words of worship strung together. Songs that were specific to my season, straight from my Savior, to be sung to my Savior.

In a time of waiting and longing, I sang this:

“I believe You will do it.

I will trust You through it.

I will praise You to it.

God, I know you are moving.

You are my victory, you defeat the enemy.

You have overcome, you said it was done.

So, I will believe. I will praise.

I will honor you all of my days.”

Over and over, I could come back to these words.

While I did the dishes. On my way to work.

“I believe You will do it.”

In a season of loneliness, isolation, and uncertainty, I sang:

“I’ve been wandering, wondering

where you went, where you have been.

I don’t feel the same. I’ve lost my flame.”

Something supernatural happens when we

open our mouths and let our message out.

We connect with God in a deep, intimate way.

We build our faith and strengthen our spirit.

We worship Him in spirit and truth.

Colossians 3:16 says, Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.

There is a song inside of you.

There is a song inside of me.

And He wants us to sing.

You have words of worship in this season.

You have a voice that He wants to hear.

Your praise is a testimony of His presence.

You may simply sing, “You are here. You are near.”

Your worship is a way to wait.

You may sing, “I will wait for You. I will wait for a breakthrough.:

Your song is a plea for peace.

You may sing, “Still the water. Calm the sea. Won’t You draw near to me?”

You may just sing, “Jesus.”

No matter your season, sing.

Sing in your waiting, healing, grieving, wondering, resting, weariness.

Sing your song of deliverance, hope, waiting, believing, thanksgiving.

Psalm 96:1

Sing a new song to the Lord;

Let the whole earth sing to the Lord.

Psalm 40:3

He put a new song in my mouth,

A hymn of praise to our God.

Many will see and fear,

And they will trust in the Lord.

Be there

I

Be where your feet are.

The other day I was scrolling through social media and saw this quote. I thought it was simple yet profound. I have always been a “planner.” I like to-do lists, structure, calendars – basically anything that makes it seem as though I know what I am doing and have it together. I often like to focus on the future instead of the here and now so it goes without saying that when I read this quote it made me stop and think.

So often we get caught up in our future, goals, and plans – which is a good thing in most instances – until we allow it to consume us. We think to ourselves “in *fill in the blank amount of time* I will achieve *fill in the blank* and THEN I will be happy – THEN is when I will feel as though I am making a difference, THEN I will happier, THEN everything will just be BETTER. When I check off everything on my to-do list, when the house is clean, when I get my dream car – whatever it is that I am wanting in this moment – when I finally get that thing I will be happy.

For as long as I can remember, I have also always been a person that wanted to matter – truly matter. I’ve always been in constant pursuit of doing whatever it would look like to matter – to someone, to the world, to God. I believed that I had to be hustling toward the next best thing to prove my value.

“Be where your feet are” is a constant reminder, a way to remind myself to look around and acknowledge where I am, the people I am around, and the community that I have been blessed to be a part of. It is something that is simple enough that I can whisper this under my breath and remind me to live in this moment. To remind me that God put me here for a reason. He put you here, wherever “here” is for you for a REASON.

Without fail, when I turn from distractions, God always shows me moments that He handcrafted for me. They’re there waiting for me. I just need to step into them. We are living in a time great mental, emotional and even physical stress. We have survived so much as a people that it is often hard to simply just ✨be✨. With social media constantly in our faces, we feel as thought we have to prove something to others constantly. It is easy to get distracted from hearing that still, small voice that is telling us to live in this moment and be who God has called us to be. God did not call you to be your neighbor – He called you to LOVE your neighbor. Wherever you are, whatever you do – you have the God-given power to change the lives around you in either a positive or negative way. So choose to speak life into your neighbor – choose to live in this moment – choose to bloom where God has planted you and above all – choose to be where your feet are.

I am here to say that God wants to work in you TODAY. TODAY is the day that the Lord has made so let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Below is a quote that I wanted to share from a book that I have been reading that I feel really shows the power in “being where your feet are.”

“When we hang out on the internet instead of our neighborhoods, when we look through magazines instead of into people’s eyes, when we dwell on our own problems instead of the problems in our communities – we will always feel inadequate and shut down. We begin to feel like there are so many people doing cool things that we are not needed. But in the real world none of those cool people live on your street, none of them are loving your neighbors. God wants to do that through you TODAY…”

He that has began a good work in us WILL bring it to completion! (Philippians 1:6)

“Now to him and who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen” -Ephesians 3:20-21

Psalm 25:4-5, “Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” 👣🌻🪴

My blog: themadisonjade.blogspot.com

You can

I felt deep within my soul last night that somebody needed a pep talk.

Here it goes. Pretend we are face to face.

Now, don’t you dare say you can’t do hard things. You can.

You can because He did. And He is living within you.

Life is hard. Being a Christian is hard.

But hard is rewarding.

Whatever you’re going through today – whatever mountain your are trudging up – He is with you. Walking beside you. Guiding you. Rooting for you.

You can do this, sister. You can do hard things.

“Let’s not get tired of doing good, because in time we’ll have a harvest if we don’t give up.”

Galatians 6:9

He’s there

We once were all lost, but now we are found.

Sometimes we just need to ask ourselves what has Jesus saved us from today? He’s everywhere. Rooting for you. Protecting you. Fulfilling promises. Do you trust in him? At times I believe we need to remember just how mighty he is. Dig into scripture to find out. Look around to see him working. He’s there.

“Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises.” Romans 4:20-21 NLT

God is a God of life.
God is a God forgiveness.
God is a God of rescue.

We serve a God that keeps on saving. I don’t know about you, but I am so thankful God didn’t just save me once and move along. He keeps pursing us. He keeps saving us. Do you trust in him?

In this world full of tribulations, You have to know who you are. You have to know what God’s word says about you. You have to be so rooted in scripture you know regardless of how your world is around you, your faith will not waver.

“I praise you being I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14

If you don’t know this today, know that you are redeemed. You are made new by Christ. Believe this today. You are walking in love because you are loved. Commit your life to Jesus. Who you used to be is not who you are.

God is a God of faithfulness.
I hope you trust in him today.

Don’t

This last week a friend and I went and saw Jesus Revolution. It’s such a great movie! I recommend watching if you haven’t already.

A quote from the movie really hit me.

“how can they believe in the one whom they’ve not heard?”

It really got me because I feel like we take for granted the opportunities we have to share the Gospel.

Everyday we go out. We go to the grocery store, the gas station, to work, school, to church. And if you don’t go out then you’re probably on social media at some point.

All of those things are chances to share God’s love.

Don’t miss this.

We are called to share the Gospel. To share what Jesus did for all of us.

And if you are living out the Word of God then you will want others to be able to experience God’s love too!

It should be a desire to share Jesus.

Go grow the Kingdom and share the love of Jesus.

“And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.””

Matthew 28:18-20 ESV

Love the lost

I don’t think I have ever felt a burden for the lost like I do right now!! My heart feels so heavy to think that there are people out there that have never accepted Jesus Christ in their hearts. There are people who will not spend eternity in heaven, but in hell. I don’t want to ever pass up an opportunity to help someone learn the truth and the love of Jesus Christ. Do you know that God expects us to stand in the gap for lost family, friends, nations, and etc.? The definition for standing in the gap is to expose oneself for the protection of something; to take the place of a fallen defender or supporter.

Ezekiel 22:30 says,” I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before Me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one.” In biblical times walls were built around the cities to protect them from enemies. When there was a breach in the wall, defenders would go to it and stand and protect it until it could be repaired, but in this case there was no one and it was destroyed. Verse 31… “ So I will pour out my wrath on them and consume them with my fiery anger, bringing down on their heads all they have done, declares the Sovereign Lord.”How sad that God was searching and could not find one person to stand in the gap.

There are however several other instances in the bible where people did obey God by standing the gap. Psalm 106:23 says, “Therefore He said He would destroy them … had not Moses, His chosen one, stood in the breach (gap) before Him, to turn away His wrath from destroying them.” In Acts 7:60 as Stephen is being stoned, accused of blasphemy, he cries out with a loud voice, “Lord do not charge them with this sin” and when he had said this he fell asleep.” In Romans 10:1 Paul prays for Israel’s salvation,”Brethren my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.” One last example and the most important is Jesus Christ as He stood in the gap for us and all of our sins on the cross. Luke 23:34 Jesus said,”Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.

I know times are different, but as I said before, God still expects us to stand in the gap. Our time on earth is running out! We don’t want to leave anyone behind. So what can we do? Most importantly we can start with praying for the lost. We can pray specific prayers for our family members,friends, people in our workplaces, and communities. We can also pray in a larger spectrum for people all over the world. Pray for the missionaries who are trying to reach them. Pray, pray, pray!!! God listens to our prayer and He desires for all to come to repentance and be saved, but He is a holy sovereign God and nothing can change that. It does require accepting Jesus Christ as God’s Son and believing He died on the cross to save us from our sins. We have to be ready to talk about the gospel to anyone we meet. We are servants of a true living God who expects us to spread His word. We should be shouting it wherever we go. Now, we will come across those who absolutely refuse to hear it. God just wants us to plant the seed and the Holy Spirit will do the rest. As we continue to pray for them He will work on their hearts and minds God uses us to open that door and then it is totally up to Him. Our goal is to love the lost just as much as our fellow christians. Love is the most important attribute that a christian can have.

God has placed us on earth for such a time as this and it is time we stand in the gap. He is giving us time,to pray, to seek His Will, and to be the servants He wants us to be, but time will run out for each and every person on this earth.God does not want to see anyone go to hell. Let’s do all we can to fill up our eternal home. 2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”

Holy Spirit

The last 2 years have been a journey with the Holy Spirit on becoming content & grateful. I found myself in a very discontent & negative state of mind that came on by me not guarding my heart & mind.

I wasn’t truly grateful for anything. One night I had an encounter with Him & the desire to become so content & to only let gratitude come from my heart & mouth became so strong. I could feel the Holy Spirit saying, “You’re going to have to become violent in this approach to change your way of thinking.” In that moment I made a decision to only speak life & truly let gratitude flow from my life. It was then that true contentment began taking root.

“Don’t be pulled in different directions or worried about a thing. Be saturated in prayer throughout each day, offering your faith-filled requests before God with OVERFLOWING GRATITUDE. Tell him every detail of your life, then God’s wonderful peace that transcends human understanding, will make the answers known to you through Jesus Christ….”Philippians 4:6

The word overflowing means to be so full that the content goes over. It’s noticeable to those around you. It spills into your atmosphere.

How do we stay grateful?

“So keep your thoughts continually fixed on all that is authentic and real, honorable and admirable, beautiful and respectful, pure and holy, merciful and kind. And fasten your thoughts on every glorious work of God, praising him always.” Philippians 4:7-8 TPT

The word grateful means feeling or showing an appreciation of kindness; thankful. One enemy of gratitude is comparison. If I compare my life to those around me instead of being grateful for the season & place I’m in, I’ll never be truly grateful or content.

Being grateful means I’m constantly in a heart posture of being thankful for EVERY glorious work of God.

“You can pass through his open gates with the password of praise. Come right into his presence with thanksgiving. Come bring your thank offering to him and affectionately bless his beautiful name!”Psalms 100:4 TPT

Have you ever struggled to enter in to His presence? Be thankful. We enter into His presence with OVERFLOWING GRATITUDE.

Gratefulness is the forerunner to contentment.

“Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”” Hebrews 13:5 ESV

”Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.” Philippians 4:11-12 NLT

“And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19 NLT

Contentment is a state of happiness & satisfaction.

“Let joy be your continual feast. Make your life a prayer. And in the midst of everything be always giving thanks, for this is God’s perfect plan for you in Christ Jesus. Never restrain or put out the fire of the Holy Spirit.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-19 TPT

Feasting on joy brings contentment. When I’m choosing to be joyful & feasting on the joys of life, there’s a deep contentment that takes root within. Then even in difficult seasons I can still have joy because contentment is present. They go hand & hand.

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” James 1:2-4 NLT

When we’re content, we won’t rush seasons away, even hard ones. In 1 Thessalonians, the very next verse after it says be thankful, says “never restrain or put out the fire of the Holy Spirit.”

A lack of gratitude puts out the fire of the Holy Spirit in my life, it actually restrains Him! When I operate in extreme gratitude, it welcomes the Holy Spirit to do what He wants in me & through me. THIS is the will of God in our lives. Knowing you’re operating in the perfect will of God & the Holy Spirit is present & free in your life, leads to the greatest contentment.

“I overflow with praise when I come before you, for the anointing of your presence satisfies me like nothing else. You are such a rich banquet of pleasure to my soul.” Psalms 63:5 TPT

Only Jesus truly satisfies. When I know that & I’m satisfied with Him & Him alone, deep gratitude & contentment takes root & flows out.